‘Twas the year of the election,
and all through the nation;
most protestors were silent,
Would a Democratic win
turn things around
and would a vote for change
cause peace and prosperity to abound?
Forgetting our history
and filtering the present,
we overlook the fine print
to enjoy what is pleasant.
We seem doomed to repeat
the mistakes of the past
as we surge to a destruction
of a kind that will last.
Occasionally, one will see the bumper sticker of hope that says: “01-20-09.” Of course the bumper sticker is referring to our next President and the change that is longed for. Assuming that Obama is elected, will we see the changes we need?
Many are demonstrating audacity by hoping that Obama will transform our nation, and why shouldn’t they? They just heard Obama stand up to Big Oil by threatening them with a windfall profit tax. And we have heard him position himself as a man of peace by opposing our War on Iraq. So it seems that Obama is the President we need because he is the one who will stand up for the individual and protect us from war.
But as Lee Corso would say: “not so fast my friend.” As it has been said before, “the devil is in the details.” So what are the facts that should move us to fatalism for the near future?
Let’s start with the perception that Obama will stand up for the individual against the corporation. First consider that in mid-April, he had garnered more donations from Wall Street donors than either Clinton or Guiliani (see Washington Post Article). Then consider that it is Wall Street that opposes regulations on oil speculators who are suspected of playing a major role in Big Oil’s surge on our wallets. Though the role that oil speculators play on the price of oil is just now being examined by Congress, it has been examined before by Ralph Nader starting last October (see "Who Determines The Price Of Oil? , see also "What's Really Driving The High Price Of Oil"). Will Obama bite the hand that feeds his election by advocating regulations that make oil speculators answerable or will he use sleight of hand and continue the Bush tradition of protecting the powerful from accountability?
Are there other corporate compromises visible on Obama’s horizon? Consider that his major contributors include Goldman-Sachs, Lehman Brothers, J.P. Morgan Chase, Exelon, as well as significant contributions from the health care and insurance sectors (See Paul Street's "Barack Obama And The Audacity Of Deception"). So for example, does Obama’s health care plan more benefit the individual or his contributors? Does Obama know that the American College of Physicians recommended a single-payer system (see article on American College of Physicians recommendation) or is he aware that while insurance companies are financing our medical services, profit remains the motive in the dispensing of care?
Next we should examine the perception that Obama is a man of peace. Some in the peace movement see Obama that way because he has, from the beginning, opposed the Iraq War. In addition, he has stated that we need to include listening to our adversaries as part of our foreign policies. And finally, some see him that way because they are comparing him to George Bush and his use of threats and force. But when we look at why Obama has opposed the war, questions rise. Back in 2002, Obama called the then coming war with Iraq “rash” and “dumb.” He correctly assessed the consequences of the war regarding its effects on anger in the Middle East and the unknown costs we would incur. He also thought that the war was being used to distract us from our domestic problems (Obama's 2002 assessment).
Having read that, one would be tempted to ask: “Where is your beef?” The beef is that Obama says we should never question the morality of America’s actions. Even when a “rash” and “dumb” war has 1) displaced millions of Iraqis; 2) killed up to 1.3 million Iraqis; and 3) taken away resources from Americans who are in need, the morality of America’s actions, according to Obama, should never be in doubt. This is why he denounced Rev. Wright for equating some of America’s military actions with terrorism. This is why he distanced himself from Rev. Wright by calling Rev. Wright’s criticisms “divisive” and claimed they are counterproductive in uniting our country (Obama denounces Rev Wright). Rev Wright’s view of America’s past and present, according to Obama, cannot be true because, as Chomsky would say, it would require that we look into a mirror. This is both postmodern and political Obama who believes that reaction determines the truth of any statement.
Obama’s refusal to call America’s invasion of Iraq immoral raises a humongous red flag. This red flag is waiving ominously over our future because the absence of morality results in an absence of self-restraint and accountability—two characteristics that are missing from America policies today. This is because morals both prevent us from hurting others even when doing so would benefit ourselves and compel us to be accountable for our actions. When morality is erased from the picture, as it has been under President Bush, we find ourselves in an eternal free for all to be king of the hill using weapons that have become more and more destructive.
So while many are expecting change with the election of Obama, there are signs that indicate significant change will not occur. One disturbing sign is the list of Obama’s campaign contributors. Another disturbing sign is that Obama will provide no moral judgment on the Iraq War and that leads to another indicator of trouble. That is because of the fact that the opposition candidate will not provide a moral assessment of the Iraq War, our allowable choices for President fit the Propaganda Model proposed by the Chomsky-Herman regarding the media. Their Propaganda Model stated that for elites to control public opinion, the media allowed opposing viewpoints to be expressed as long as they were limited. So as in the Vietnam War, business criticisms of the War were allowed but moral judgments were not, and so the same applies to our Presidential candidates’ assessments of America’s foreign policies today. Thus our choices for President indicate that we will see the same old same old that we have seen from the media. Legitimate candidates are allowed to hold opposing views as long as the opposing views are limited. To further make the point, consider the candidates receiving sufficient coverage by the media and those who are marginalized. We saw those who truly challenged the morality of American foreign policies were limited in their participation in the Democratic primary debates. And consider how the media is covering the Presidential candidates who are not from the two major parties. Certainly we can say that electing Obama will bring changes but the changes will be limited to what is acceptable by those funding the election. In the meantime, we are heading toward a path of self-destruction by our overreliance on force.